subject: Indie developer Eternal Return’s global challenge Lecturer: Kim Nam-seok – Nimble Neuron / CEO Presentation area: planning, development Lecture time: 2021.11.17 (Thu) 10:00 ~ 10:50 Lecture Summary: Game philosophy, resonance and thoughts on AAA games from Nimble Neuron CEO Nam-seok Kim
■ resonance – Continuous resonance with changing gamers
Nimble Neuron’s Eternal Return started early access in 2020 and became a sensational hit. Shortly after starting Early Access, the number of concurrent Steam users exceeded 50,000. The number of simultaneous viewers on Twitch TV, an internet streaming platform, has exceeded 70,000. It could even be described as a storm. In fact, Eternal Return could be Nimble Neuron’s last game. Kim Nam-seok, CEO of Nimble Neuron, talked about how a game that was evaluated as ‘garbage’ could become a popular game, and introduced his philosophy of resonance with gamers and AAA games.
Kim Nam-seok, CEO of Nimble Neuron, explained the meaning of resonance. Everyone has a natural frequency, and it is said that resonance occurs when the natural frequency is transmitted periodically with the same force. He said that if the resonance is continuous, it is amplified with tremendous power. Enough to break down huge steel structures. ‘BTS’ and ‘Squid Game’ were elements that well explained resonance in social and cultural phenomena. The process of finding the Woollim that individuals and communities have, or creating the Woollim on their own, was the same as the game development that CEO Nam-seok Kim thought of.
“All the games we’ve developed since 2012 failed. There was a fire in the office, and the publishing was canceled. We filmed to the bottom of hell and then went up. Then we started making a work called Eternal Return. It was a thought.”
■ Launch of Eternal Return – From trash to ‘game’
Eternal Return is a character survival battle royale strategy PVP game. CEO Nam-seok Kim expressed it as a single-player MOBA. We started making it at the edge of the cliff, but the motivation to create a valuable game that can give gamers a different kind of fun was clear. The reality was harsh. Marketing budget is $0. The period given was only one year.
The first tester build came out after 5 months. They sold their products to all kinds of game communities and recruited testers. Most of the testers rated it as ‘garbage’. CEO Kim Nam-seok said, “I expected it, but I was heartbroken. There were three characters. At the time, it seemed okay, but now that I look at it, I understand that evaluation. Nevertheless, I am grateful to the dozens of people who liked the novelty. It has a name in it,” he said.
“I needed a publisher. I visited and called a lot, but they were all rejected. Nevertheless, a total of 7 tests were conducted. The value of the build started to rise with each test. In the last test, 28,000 people gathered. . We started early access on October 14, 2020. The number of concurrent users exceeded 50,000, and we were able to achieve a lucky experience.”
■ AAA games – Like it or not, you have to compete with AAA games
Eternal Return is making a major genre game called Battle Royale. Like it or not, it means competing for a global AAA title. Global gamers hate to see developers hiding behind ‘indie shields’. They don’t want a gaming experience somewhere between indie and AAA, they want a distinct AAA experience.
“The key topic of our recent discussion is how to leap from global to AAA games. From the time we developed Eternal Return, we didn’t know how well it would turn out. We said that we would like only 1,000 people to join us on the day of early access. Even if you start development later, you will think that it will compete with AAA games when it is hugely successful. At that point, you have to make drastic changes and innovations.”
“AAA games that I define are not something that costs tens of billions of dollars to develop or marketing is huge. AAA games are games that manage gamers’ expectations well. The cycle of maintaining, amplifying and realizing their expectations is well integrated. Games. I think there is a resonance between gamers and developers when it’s more fun than expected, when it’s as fun as you. A continuous and specific AAA cycle creates a resonance.”
Nimble Neurons are also responding to the changing gaming environment. We pay attention to cloud gaming, steam decks, and game passes. The way game developers and gamers connect is changing. He emphasized that it is necessary to always think about how to deliver an AAA experience and resonate with the gamer community in such a changing environment.
CEO Nam-seok Kim confessed that he enjoys imagining his games. ‘What if’ ever imagined about their AAA game. It is to think about what kind of AAA elements are necessary for my game. “If you make Overwatch with Eternal Return? You need an art style that encompasses East and West. Eternal Return’s Aiden and Fight Fantasy’s Shancred Waters are very similar. Eternal Return Overwatch requires Shancred Waters’ art style. What if it was a TPS style with a camera on the back, and an RPG arena style added to it?”
“There are various monsters that threaten survival, each character has a pattern and strategy to hunt those monsters, and level-up through PvE and PvP, stats, and skillsets are growing. About 20 areas around the center start from the edge. It’s a setting that closes slowly, and as the area moves inside, wouldn’t it be interesting to add a threat to the survival of more powerful monsters? I won’t stop doing it.”
Imagination, which started lightly, gradually materializes, an image is created, and details about the art style and manipulation are added. Think about the price of the game, and predict how much it will sell. Consider competing works like Halo Infinity or Destiny 2. Consider an e-sports franchise.
And CEO Nam-seok Kim gave the answer ‘Why not’. Imagination and dreaming of AAA games is the right of gamers to receive their dreams, and the reason and duty of game developers to present games. Selling dreams is the essence of this business. There is no royal road to the AAA game, and he declared that he would work hard on the basis of P2E and Play to Enjoy.